Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Crab Miso. I had a late bite with my friend Linda at Piatti's in Mill Valley this evening. Piatti has rechristened itself "Piatti Locali" and only uses ingredients from within 12 miles of the restaurant, and mostly, with a couple exceptions, organic. We tasted some tidbits of squash blossoms filled with ricotta and deep fried with a light coating of flour, and served over a tomato reduction. It was reminincent of my mother's special squash flower dish that she said was a special treat her grandmother made her in the early summer. Traditions passed down. I also had a nice chardonnay and white nectarines with prociutto.

I mentioned to Linda a miso soup - Crab Miso - that I'd made for my Dad as I'm trying to get as much miso in his diet as possible during his radiation treatments. It is supportive in minimizing radiation damage to healthy cells. So, I'm writing my recipe below for Linda and anyone else who thinks it looks good. It is good by the way :-). Oh, and I just made this one up on the fly, it's my own creation. The measurements aren't exact, as I was just pouring/adding things by look and feel.

Crab Miso

~4 cups filtered water
2 packets iriko dashi (Japanese dried anchovy soupbase packets)
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and sliced lengthwise into slivers
2 cremini mushrooms, brushed and sliced
generous handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
4-6 oz Dungeness or other crabmeat, shelled
2 yellow finn potatoes, peeled and sliced in medium pieces
2 rounds of fishpaste cake infused with burdock, sliced in slivers.
2 heaping tablespoons of yellow miso (golfball sized lump)
Optional: Minced green onions

Have two cooking pots out. In the smaller pot, fill with water leaving room to put cut potatoes. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until tender. When the potatoes are nearly done, add the sliced fishcake and cook a little longer. Drain in colander. While preparing the potatoes, fill the larger pot with the ~4 cups water, dashi, onion and mushroom, bring to a boil and simmer. When it looks like the potatoes are close to done, add the spinach and crabmeat to the larger pot and continue to simmer. Add the cooked potatoes and fishcake from the colander to the larger pot, and turn off the heat. Mix in the yellow miso to the larger pot a little at a time so it mixes in smoothly for a rich and lumpless broth.

The potatoes are cooked in a separate pot so that the starch that leaches into the water can be drained off and won't make an off taste in the delicate miso soup. The fishcake is preboiled with the potatoes because the fishcake is covered in an oily coating and most of it rinses off in the potato water, and drained out in the colander, so there will not be an oil slick in your finished miso.

You can also add some freshly minced green onions to the soup in the serving bowls for garnish.

This is a kind of "homestyle" or "country" Japanese dish, served in a larger ramen sized bowl as an entree. For a more formal, first-course kind of dish, one would increase the ration of liquid to solid ingredients, perhaps artfully float an unshelled crab claw in the middle, and use a baby mitsuba (Japanese parsley) leaf floating rather than the minced green onion... and it would be served in a lidded black lacquer bowl.


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